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Archive for August, 2011

Finding a very good deal on fresh picked button mushrooms, being sold in five and ten gallon buckets worth, at a produce stand I could not pass it up and grabbed the ten gallon.  I had three missions in mind, first to can mushrooms up in pint jars, second to dehydrate a few jars and third to dehydrate and grind up the stems to make into a mushroom powder for flavoring.  I’m thankful to say upon writing this all three missions accomplished.

Canning Mushrooms

1.) Wash your mushrooms well, remove stems and slice.

2.) Place in water on stove and bring to boil, boil for five minutes.  Start a second pot of water boiling to cover your mushrooms.

3.) Fill jars with mushrooms and cover with fresh boiling water.

4.) Place one tablet 500mg vitamin C in jar with mushrooms to help retain color.

5.) Fill jars with clean boiling water and seal.

6.) Process half pints/pints for 45 minutes in pressure canner.

Mushroom Powder

Dehydrate your mushrooms to brittle state.  Place in a blender or food processor and pulse to a powder.  Store in airtight container.  This works wonderful in stews, gravies or for flavoring in foods.

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I couldn’t help but stop and ponder today as I was walking through the grocery store about recycling, note I’m all for recycling and do so myself, but this little bottle made me stop and think.  The bottle is made of 30% plant based sugar or sugarcane ethanol to be exact.  It therefore is capable of being recycled and thus reducing the carbon footprint.  It sounds great, wonderful in fact and at one time I might have jumped to buy it…but now.  My first thought involved that I can my own ketchup.  In this the only -waste- that results for a landfill is sometimes a canning lid.  Note I did say sometimes, those lids also have amazing other uses when removed from canning jars.  They hang in my bushes and fruit trees to ward off pests, in garden also.  I’ve painted them, decorated them and hung them in Christmas trees as decorations.  They have become bases for quilted drink coasters.

My second thought involved the actual process of canning the tomatoes.  The water I use to blanch the tomatoes to get skin off becomes water and nutrient for my garden.  The skins and seeds if I don’t use them to make tomato powder are fed to chickens which in turn produce eggs or meat. Even if they did not eat it, wildlife would which includes not only furry creatures , turtles, toads and lizards but also useful and necessary insects.

I then moved on to the plant and growth of them myself.  The flowers produce pollen for the bees which then provide us with honey.  The plants at end of harvest get turned into compost and returned as more fertile soil the next year.  Worms thrive on them and in this soil . They benefit the ecosystem rather then destroy it.

Now other then the factories needed to go through the process of returning these bottles into something capable of being recycled, not to mention the fact that few places truly do recycle and if you are lucky your higher priced recycling pickup doesn’t go to a dump anyways. Some of us, okay many of us throughout the United States do not hold the luxury of having recycling pickup.  We then have to drive to a location to drop off our recycled goods, this uses gas and creates our own carbon footprint from that trip. Some of these locations are not anywhere near where we live so it becomes quite a trip. I honestly have no idea how much waste is produced from the factories that are reprocessing these items back into a form to be reused.  I can only wonder if they are really doing good or if they are just creating another mess in the toxic soup situation.

So, with all this thinking I came to a conclusion.  They can keep their bottle and I will keep my “waste” to a single ring of metal and the rare cracked glass jar.

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I’ll admit it, I am a sucker for spicy foods and growing up there was a hot veggie mix sold in the stores up North I loved, unfortunately it’s not sold down here so I had to learn to make my own.  This probably was a blessing as the other was packed full of preservatives and sodium, making and canning your own isn’t that difficult with end of garden vegetables.  If you want to try making your own here is the recipe I use.

Hot Veggie Mix

4 bell peppers, chunked  (green or combine green with red/orange/yellow)

4 large carrots , chunked

4 stalks celery, chunked

3 cups cauliflower, broken up

3-4 jalapeno peppers, sliced

1/2 cup canning kosher salt

2 cups water

10 cups vinegar

3 cloves garlic

2 tbsp prepared horseradish

1/3 cup sugar

Layer your vegetables in clean jars.  Combine remaining ingredients in large saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.  Ladle hot liquid over mixture and seal.  Process 10 minutes in hot water bath.  Wait at least 2 weeks before opening to allow brine to manipulate the vegetables.

 

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Tomorrow my son has a parade to attend and I got charged with desserts.  I wanted something that was capable of holding a old fashion charm, easy to eat and easy to carry.  Cookies and cupcakes just didn’t seem proper, though I did use cupcakes to create this.  I’ve made these before and they really are delicious and simple.  You can’t go wrong with that.

1 devils food cake mix

1 can cherry pie filling

1 can Redi Whip

1 jar Maraschino cherries

Chopped peanut or nut topping (optional)

1 case (or more) jelly canning jars

Yes, that is really all that is involved.  Before serving I will offer to add chopped peanuts to the top but that is optional.

1) Mix up your cake mix and follow directions for making cupcakes.

2.) Let cupcakes cool completely and cut them in half, you will use one cupcake per jar.

3.) Place bottom of cupcake in bottom of jar, add a layer of cherry pie filling.

4.) Add a healthy squeeze of Redi Whip on top pie filling.

5.) Add top piece of cupcake, don’t fret if you have to smush it in no one will notice.

6.) Add another layer of cherry pie filling.

At this point for transfer I put the lid and cover on the jar, then bring along Redi Whip, maraschino cherries and chopped nuts.

**Refrigerate jars until ready to serve or transport**

 

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I love this recipe, it is not only easy, makes an excellent meal for the hot days of summer, is extremely versatile, but it also helps get your kids to eat their vegetables.  How we do it, every one gets to choose two vegetables to go on the pizza.  You can choose from a wide variety, onions, radishes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, mushrooms, summer squash and green onions are the more traditional ones we usually choose from.

For the base it’s crescent roll dough.  Two can’s fill a cookie sheet.  You can either buy the pre-made canned in the store or you can choose to make your own, either works fine.  Remove from can, squash into a ball and using a little flour roll out to size you need to fill pan.  You want this thin as you can make it.  Using a fork, pierce the dough numerous times to keep it from bubbling and raising.   Cook per directions or at 400 degrees for 12 minutes (watch bottom for browning.)

As you let the dough cool, mix up your spread of 8 oz cream cheese, 2 tbsp sour cream & 1 tsp garlic powder.   You can add other flavorings to this as well.  Some I like to use is Italian seasoning,  parsley, dill, basil, or a few tsp ranch dressing mix.

Spread the now cooled dough with the cream cheese spread, add your chopped vegetables of choice and put the entire mix in the refrigerator for at least half a hour to a hour before serving.  Cut into squares or as a regular pizza and serve.  Delicious!

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It’s that time of year again where I use up the remaining beef and pork to make room for restocking in the fall.  This also means it’s time to restock the staples shelf and spice cabinet, my mission this morning was to make up a large batch of Fajita Seasoning Spice Blend.  I offer a single serving recipe, but double or triple as needed for your personal storage need. For myself I make enough to fill a quart jar and then use 1/4 cup of the blend when making a meal. This is really simple and can be stored for a long time in a sealed container.  It also lacks the sodium found in the store brands which is always a plus in my book.

Fajita Seasoning Spice Blend.

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp black pepper

3 tbsp corn starch

Put in bowl and stir together to blend well.  Store in air tight container.

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Tonight was a dig through freezer and see what I could throw together event.  A few months back there was a good sale on pork steaks, so that became my focus. Finding some frozen bell peppers in assorted colors just sealed the fate of the pork.  I also wanted something that wouldn’t be heavy on the stomach in this heat, luck would have it this fit the bill nicely.

 

Asian Pork Stir-Fry.

1 pork steak, sliced into thin slices and fried until done in 2 tbsp sesame oil.

1 can green beans

1 cup julianne sliced bell peppers (yellow, green, orange, red varieties)

1/2 cup sliced yellow onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chow mein noodles

Sauce

1/2 cup orange juice (reserve 2 tbsp to use to add cornstarch later)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp black pepper

2 tsp corn starch

 

1.) Heat oil in pan with minced garlic and onion.  Add pork and cook until browned and cooked through.

2.) Add bell peppers to pork and let sit on simmer.

3.) In pot mix all other ingredients together and bring to boil, thicken with corn starch.

4.) Pour sauce over pork and stir well.  Let simmer 5 minutes to infuse flavors.

5.) While finishing pork, make rice to serve it with.

 

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It was 106 degrees today when the tomatoes demanded I not wait on them any longer.  Rather then lose what this year has been precious gold, I decided to bear with the heat and can up spaghetti sauce.  I am certain I sweated off a few pounds today but if the taste test any indication it was well worth it.

The process was easy enough.  Take your tomatoes and blanch them in a hot water bath until the skins split.  Let cool enough to handle and peel off the skin.  At this point a lot of people put them through a food mill, I don’t bother for spaghetti sauce, instead I just put them in a blender and turn them into a pulpy mess.  I then take this mess and put it in a kettle and begin to simmer it down and reduce.  Total amount of tomatoes was 10 cups to begin before reduction.

To this I added:

7 garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (1/4 cup if using dried)

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves (2 tbsp if using dried)

2 large green bell peppers, diced.

8 button mushrooms, sliced and diced.

1/2 – 1  cup sugar  (I used 1/2 as I don’t like it so sweet)

2 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients into a pot and cook on medium high heat for 1 hour, stir frequently and let boil down.  Once foam stops, reduce to simmer and let reduce another two hours or longer.   At this point you can ladle into jars and seal.

Hot Water Bath pint jars for 35 minutes, quarts for 40 minutes.

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MYO Turnovers

I know I’ve vanished for a while from posting. It isn’t that a lot wasn’t going on, it was more what was going on wasn’t worth posting about.  Mother Nature and I had a big fight this year and she won. With the drought and hundred plus degrees for months on end,  I’ve lost my entire garden.  With now being under a water constriction I am truly fearful how many younger fruit trees and bushes will be lost before this is over.  Being one who relies on putting up her own this was a harsh blow, but one that will be gotten over and worked through.

This week I made up Apple and Cherry Turnovers.  The children loved them, and while I made mine from scratch…I will offer you a more simple way to do the .  The simple method is to purchase puff pastry dough sheets from freezer section of your grocery store, flour a surface and roll out until thin, then add a filling either using homemade apple and cherry pie filling, or canned variety from store, and fold.  I do a side fold method as it is just cleaner, but you can do the more recognized triangle version as well.

A second method, and what I used, is using what is known as a “Rough Puff Pastry”, for this you need:

2 1/2 cups cold flour

3/4 tsp salt

24 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into pieces

3/4 cup very cold water

Sift flour and salt into cold cubes of butter. Using a pastry butter, large chef knife or even your fingers cut the butter into the flour until you achieve a crumbly mixture.  Add ice cold water a little at time and mix until it all just sort of hangs together.  Shape into a messy, shaggy dough and roll to 1/2 inch thick.

Use your pastry scraper to fold the dough into thirds like a business letter.  Turn 90 degrees and roll out again.  Refold and turn once more and roll again.  This takes about four to five turns before your dough will take on a smooth appearance.   Wrap and chill the dough for half an hour before you do two more additional roll outs and turns.  Return to refrigerator for another half hour before doing your final roll out for use.

 

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